Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Unloved Self: The Shadow

There is a part of us that lurks in the shadows of our mind. A part of us shunned and stunted and cut off from the life flow.  An unloved part, C.G.Jung termed "shadow".  The time has come to shed some light on this dark aspect of personality.   It is the tyrant in our unconscious that is the cause of much conflict and sabotaging decision making that leads us into trouble.  Our acting out and misbehaving is born out of the unseen shadow within.  Paradoxically, our over-identification with behaving ourselves is also born out of this obscure dimension.

When we deny elements of our self, we become inflexible, unyielding, controlling & judgmental.  We lose our innate spontaneity.  When events don't happen as expected, we struggle and resist; having lost our resilience in that moment.  Our world turns from a rainbow of colors to only grey, black, and white.

"A composite of characteristics and potentialities which have been denied expression in life.  It contains inferior qualities which the ego will not permit it to recognize.  But because it is accessible to the ego, it assists the ego in adapting and thus contains positive content as well as negative."  The Shadow defined by C.G. Jung.

Familiar with the phrase, "The outer reflects the inner?"  If your world is full of negative, or simply annoying people for example, then the place to go to begin to amend this is to your shadow.
In the words of June Singer, Jungian analyst; "What we cannot admit in ourselves we often find in others."
I have my clients make a list of all things they dislike about someone in particular.  Then they make a list of how they personally act out at times.  They then compare the two lists.  Or, if acting out isn't the issue, then one can write why someone would want to act that way.  What benefit is received by behaving a particular way that is not approved of.   You might ask yourself: How am I like this person? How do I compensate, & sacrifice to avoid acting like this person? Is my current behavior in alignment with who I am, or do I force myself to the degree of cutting a part of myself off? 

When you soften judgements by shifting a perspective, you make room for your shadow to blend in with the light.  Welcoming an attitude of open discernment rather than judgment, for your own actions as well as others, can leave you with peace instead of harshness. As you accept your own negative stuff you step into self love; when we connect with self love we open up to love in general.  Aren't we all happier when we live with love rather than judgement?  Through conscious attention we can find ways to transform and tame the negative in us into something helpful; there in lies the potential of who we can be.

Does this mean you can go ahead and act on all your negative impulses? Of course not.  You must use your own conscious (ego) mind to mediate between your shadow thoughts and your conscious choices to move your actions toward what is best for all involved.  To accept and understand our shadow doesn't mean it's in our best interest to act out the shadow.  And remember, intention is everything.

Visit my website for more information on Jungian Depth Therapy, or call for a consultation.  404-702-8474

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Smoothness of Being

"The Smoothness of Being"... that was the mantra that came to me during a wonderful Savasana, or "corpse pose" experience right after my yoga class.  For my non-yoga readers, Savasana is the state of relaxation and meditation that occurs after the yoga class.  In fact the yoga itself is the set up for the entry point into Savasana.  Yoga moves the body and relaxes the mind so that the mind can slow its' chatter to allow for a deeper Savasana.

Moments of insight are rare or brief, even in meditation.  Often it just feels good; but this time as I was lying there, I felt the smoothness of the floor beneath me.  My mind jumped suddenly to a time when I wasn't happy in my life. A time before I myself entered into counseling.  It was a time when it was a struggle to be in my body, dealing with so many disappointments and conflicting emotions.  But through the therapeutic journey I felt better and better, until I gained a "smoothness" in being myself again.  My internal monsters didn't scare me any longer and when they did appear it was ok; I could accept them.  It became easier to be in my body, to be in my brain.  I could stop myself from getting caught up in the struggle within and instead I could honor the timing of my life as it played out its story.

C.G. Jung has brought us the gift of working with our "Shadow" our "unrecognized, unconscious aspect of the personality. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one's personality, the shadow is largely negative. There are, however, positive aspects which may also remain hidden in one's shadow." The shadow, Jung believed, is "the seat of our creativity."

What I find so important to remember is the shadow is a bridge between the conscious and the unconscious, the inner world and the outer world and it is necessary and vital.  Not something to be irradicated or even shunned. Like all of our aspects in our personality, shadow aspects play an important role.  Debbie Ford wrote a fabulous book on how to work with shadow called The Dark Side of The Light Chasers.

Learning to love what we have created thus far in our lives shifts the focus off of what is broken and moves our awareness to what is still whole; because let's face it, there is always something broken or about to break in our lives - we don't have to be perfect to do our life's work, and to accomplish our goals, or even to fix what we can. When we begin to appreciate ourselves and how far we have come in this moment, then we lose our roughness, and tightness, and allow for the smoothness of being ourselves, as we journey forward in creating the life we desire and deserve.

"For happiness , how little suffices for happiness!...the least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, a lizard's rustling, a breath, a disk, an eye glance - little maketh up the best happiness. Be still"  - Nietzsche.

"Try to be like the turtle- at ease in your own shell" - Bill Copeland.